And the Prize for the Worst Product Name of the Year Goes To...

And the Prize for the Worst Product Name of the Year Goes To...

Each year, camera and lens manufacturers battle it out to see who can come up with the worst name for a product. This year, one company stepped forward to take the prize by a country mile.

There’s been no shortage of ridiculous naming conventions established by camera companies over the years, many boxing themselves into corners due to a lack of foresight and a tin ear when it comes to marketing — probably a symptom of middle-aged men in suits trying to make stuff sound cool.

To add to manufacturers’ woes, each new iteration of a lens needs to differentiate itself from its predecessors. Those with an ounce of sense have added a “II” to a product name; those with greater aspirations for their pioneering new tech have chucked in a load of nonsensical letters. For example, hardcore Tamron fans will know the difference between a Di III VXD and a Di III RXD. However, the rest of us have to Google to see what Tamron’s marketing department thought would be a great way to differentiate between slightly different types of autofocus motor. Who wouldn’t want a load of Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive in their lens?

So, who has taken this year’s prize?

Congratulations to the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 II ASPH. POWER O.I.S.

Before we’re too critical of Panasonic’s decision-making process when naming the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 II ASPH. POWER O.I.S., let us first be grateful that the word “LUMIX” wasn’t also thrown haphazardly into the mix. (As aficionados will know, Panasonic created LUMIX as a portmanteau of “luminance” and “mix” to transcend barriers of culture.)

The Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4-6.3 II ASPH. POWER O.I.S. lens. POWER!

I had to do a bit of digging to find out what the various random letters mean. “Leica DG” identifies the lens as part of the “Digital G Series” and marks it as being certified by Leica but manufactured by Panasonic. As far as I can tell, “Vario” is Leica’s label for zoom lenses (though it seems to be more complicated than that), and “Elmar” was Ernst Leitz’s grandmother’s middle name, and Ernst really loved her a lot.

Moving further along, "ASPH." indicates that the lens is aspherical. Imagine the confusion among customers if they reduced this to one letter and, god forbid, ditched the period.

Finally, as you probably already know, “O.I.S.” denotes optical image stabilization, and again, what those periods are for is anyone’s guess. So what is “POWER O.I.S.?” I hear you asking. It was the successor to “MEGA O.I.S.” though of course how “POWER” could be considered superior to “MEGA” is insane. Personally, I can't wait for POWER O.I.S. to be phased out so that it can be replaced by "TRULY EPIC O.I.S." or "HOLY CRAP THIS IS AMAZING O.I.S." Exciting times ahead!

So, congratulations again, Panasonic. With the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 II ASPH. POWER O.I.S., you’ve cooked up an award-winning word soup of what-the-****ery. Impressive work.

Honorable Mention: OM SYSTEM

Olympus is usually a keen contender for this esteemed prize but, following the takeover by OM SYSTEM, release cycles have slowed a touch. This year, we were graced with a revamped OM SYSTEM M. Zuiko 150-400mm f/4.5 TC 1.25 IS PRO. If it feels like this lens is shouting at you, that’s because it is. Apparently, “Zuiko” means “Light of the Gods” and why that doesn’t merit some more VERY SERIOUS CAPITAL LETTERS is a mystery.

Honorable Mention: Nikon

Back in September, Nikon announced that it had "realized outstanding optical performance and bestowed it with a special name." This 135mm f/1.8 lens is clearly a significant leap forward in technology, which is why Nikon chose to use the Czech word for “diaper.” Bravo, Nikon.

What Will 2024 Bring?

2024 offers some promise. OM SYSTEM will keep plowing through the alphabet in search of something that makes sense, and the Panasonic/Leica relationship will no doubt muster some more lengthy combos to give journalists and online stores an unwelcome headache. Sadly, I fear we might be waiting a while before Nikon decides to bestow any more performance with Slavik charm, but let’s keep our fingers crossed.

What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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These names are even more difficult to process when online sites convert the metric focal lengths to inches! (I'm looking at you, Am*z*n.) Model numbers are best at this point anymore.

"Nikon chose to use the Czech word for “diaper.” Bravo, Nikon." :P The new Nikon Nappie! 🤣

Czech word for diaper is plenka. Close, but not quite.

According to my Czech friend and the internet, the word for diaper is also "plena".

What a magnificent example of.... I can't come up with a term. "Kaiju Marketing"?

Today we learned that Andy Day doesn't know anything about Leica lenses, and doesn't know how to Google very well.

But he does have a sense of humor.

What part of it was funny?

Are you a marketing guy?

I dont know why you would think I'm a marketing guy, but then i also don't know why you think Andy Day is a comedian.

And, don't forget that exact same camera could have a different name depending on the country where it is sold ?? Canon is the first offender that comes to mind.

Panasonic’s zoom with a faint whiff of Leica is a worthy winner, but I do like Nikon’s inedible garnish of Plena. I guessed that it came from the Latin for full, as in a pressurised container or full house in a theatre. Perhaps here it’s about what their marketing division is full of? I like the alternative meaning I found online, which is a satirical Puertorican folk song. I can’t say that ‘Plena’ conveys anything about technical precision or optical mastery, sadly.

There are Chinese, German, American brands as well but I wonder why the author only include Japanese brand. Do japanese are really that bad at giving names?

Not from this year, but my vote for worst-named photo product of all time goes to the Think Tank Streetwalker camera bag. I mean, really. (SMH)

Still not as bad, though, as the short-lived sports drink I saw in Japan called - I kid you not - "Mucus". Sure wish I'd bought a can as a souvenir. Think of the fun at parties.

The Streetwalker bags are perfect for carrying your Sirui Night Walker lenses.

I call my OM SYSTEM M. Zuiko 150-400mm f/4.5 TC 1.25 IS PRO Fred.

You misspelled FRED.

Ha, yes it is an acronym. The RED bit stands for Rewarding, Excellent Definition.


A secretary called her computer FRED= Frustrating Ridiculous Electronic Device. It is interesting that ratings and/or comparisons go beyond photography. This can be applied to cars, computers, restaurants (e. g., Tripadvisor), etc. Like marriage, one never knows until you try it.